Commission clears Big Island councilman of campaign violations
THE STATE Campaign Spending Commission dismissed Wednesday a complaint against Big Island Councilman James Arakaki over a fund he had established to pay legal bills.
The complaint alleged that donations made in 2004 to a fund Arakaki used to pay legal bills stemming from his fight against term limits should have been reported as campaign contributions.
However, commission Director Barbara Wong said Arakaki made no campaign spending violations.
"The donors to his legal defense fund were contributing to a fund that was separate from the campaign, and thus they were not campaign contributions. He set up a totally separate fund," she said.
Arakaki, who is in his eighth term on the Council, said all of the money placed in the legal fund has gone untouched and would be refunded to contributors.
"I'm grateful to the commission for their action," he said.
In another action the commission moved to dismiss two complaints against former television news anchor and failed political candidate Dalton Tanonaka.
Tanonaka was sentenced last week in federal court to three months in prison for campaign spending violations.
In July he pleaded guilty to two counts of violating campaign finance laws during his unsuccessful run for Congress last year. The Republican also pleaded guilty to two counts of making a false statement on a loan application for failing to declare money he borrowed during his unsuccessful campaign for lieutenant governor in the 2002 primary.
One complaint before the commission Wednesday alleged an attorney provided legal services to Tanonaka that should have been listed as an in-kind campaign contribution. Another alleged that illegal loans and contributions were made to Tanonaka's campaign.
The commission had reached a conciliation agreement with Tanonaka on a third complaint. However, the commission adjourned their meeting until Thursday so that members could review the agreement before voting.
Under the agreement, Tanonaka would be fined $7,500 for loans that became campaign contributions because they were not properly documented. He would also be required to amend his disclosure reports.
Tanonaka, who was present at the meeting, told commission members that he felt it was in the interest of fairness and moving on -- for everyone involved -- that the issues be resolved.